Macon County approves plan for merit based bonuses

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Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

Based on a plan approved by the Macon County Board of Education on Monday night, 142 employees in Macon County will receive a one-time merit-based bonus in November.

Last year, the North Carolina General Assembly provided local school districts with funds to provide bonuses to state employees and directed districts to develop the criteria to follow when allocating those bonuses. Macon County received $59,000 for the one-time bonuses and the district has spent the last few months developing the method that will be used to dole out the funds.

The only two requirements handed down from the state for districts to consider when developing a merit-based bonus pay plan is that to be eligible for the bonus, employees must be classified employees and paid out of state dollars. Classified employees are non-teaching positions — ones that don’t require a teaching credential – bus drivers, custodians, clerical staff, any position in the district not considered a teaching position.

While the number of eligible employees varies across the state, according to Macon County Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin, Macon County has 142 employees that would be eligible to receive the bonus under the proposed plan. Because the state requires that employees be classified employees that are funded with state dollars, 91 employees in Macon County who are classified employees, but paid out of either federal or local dollars, wouldn’t qualify for the bonuses.

“I would like to see what we could do either on the local level or by contacting our state legislators to see about getting those other 91 employees a bonus as well,” said Macon County School Board member Fred Goldsmith.

According to Dr. Baldwin, the 91 employees who are not paid out of state funds, are funded through different sources through a “luck of the draw.” Employees are funded until a dollar source runs out, and then those employees are funded through other available dollars, so while a classified employee might do the exact same work, in the exact same position, for the exact same amount of years, but because one employee is paid using federal dollars and another is paid using state dollars, one employee would be eligible for the bonus and the other would not.

“It just doesn’t seem fair, especially because it is at no fault of the employees how they are funded,” said Macon County Board of Education Chairman Jim Breedlove.

The board of education unanimously agreed to see how the school board can work to provide the other employees with a one-time raise and how they can inform the state of the issue.

Based on the school board’s merit-based bonus proposal, which has been approved locally and is now pending state approval, outlines the requirements for the funds to be dispersed to employees who are state funded and either a bus driver or full time, non-certified employee. The performance aspect of the bonus requires that qualifying state paid employees must also have at least one year of experience in Macon County and have received an at-standard evaluation or above on their most recent evaluation. The plan also requires regular attendance for the full bonus amounts.

The amount of the bonuses to be given out varies based on years of experience for the employees. Employees with 1-10 years are eligible for $250, 21-29 years $750, and employees with 30 or more years are eligible for a one time, $1,000 bonus.

For employees who have missed more than five workdays, the bonus will be reduced by $50.

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